A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!

(George Brooks) #1


I was in many ways quite delighted by many of the points you raised in your article “Transmission at Generation”! At the bottom, I provide the abstract. My visit to the article was also my first visit to the website Scientia et Fides! (sponsored by “the Faculty of Theology of Nicolaus Copernicus University, in Torun [Poland], in collaboration with the Group of Research “Science, Reason, and Faith” (CRYF), at University of Navarra [Pamplona, Spain].”).

Because your discussion involves multiple connections and assessments, I’m going to make some rather drastic jumps, as I attempt to capture the essence of your position. The reader can always take a nice leisurely stroll through your PDF available at the link at the bottom of this email.

An Orientation to Your Thesis: the Body Evolves, but God Gives the Soul
"In summary, life evolved gradually by incredibly tiny leaps and amazing disappearance of intermediate varieties into the sharply forms of life we know today. Then a “leap” happened at the spiritual level: God transformed the animals of Homo sapiens into persons. Before this “leap” it does not make sense to speak about “the very first human being”.

" Ascertaining when the primeval human persons were created does not require any observable
“biological discontinuity” (Lorda 2015, 179), but observable cultural achievements (civilisation). By contrast ascertaining the beginning of a new personal identity amidst a community of persons requires a sharp biological discontinuity (fertilization or something equivalent). Notice to finish this
Section that the “transformation of non-personal individuals into persons” can be considered a form of generation of persons. This will be relevant later to explaining the transmission of original sin."

Exploring the Two Population Interpretation of Genesis
". . . Thomas states that, although born without original sin, such children [the children of parents who never sinned] would have been capable of sinning, or in other words “they would not have been born confirmed in righteousness” (S.th. I, q. 100, a. 2)."

“This analysis has an important implication: Even if Humanity is descended from a single couple (Adam and Eve), generations may have passed before the appearance of sin, and hence there is no requirement that the “originating original sin” (peccatum originale originans) was committed by a single pair from which every human person is biologically descended. Or in other words, whether the first sinners were or were not the genetically common ancestors of all human persons is irrelevant for belief in the original sin.”

"This means that Thomas considers it possible that, in the beginning, humanity could have consisted of two groups: one of people in the state of innocence and one of people who fell and lost this state. However Thomas does not address (at least in the Summa theologica and to my knowledge nowhere else) the question of how such a population evolved in the following
course of history. "

Paraphrase: God could not let Righteous Hominids Mingle with Sinning Hominids
"To answer “the question that Thomas didn’t address” we invoke the principle St. Paul enounces in Romans 11:32: “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

“With relation to our question this statement by St. Paul means that God has bound everyone over to the “state of original sin” so that he may redeem them all. The main tenet of the Christian faith is that people, who are in a state of sin, and in particular original sin, need Redemption to receive eternal life. By contrast, people in the state of original righteousness would not need such Redemption.”

" But maintaining people in a state of righteousness together with people in a state of sin would not be suitable for the sake of Redemption. Although intuitively this assertion may seem obvious, it
deserves closer attention. . . . ."

“Accordingly we accept that after the first humans sinned, God’s plan for Redemption requires that any new human person is created in the state of non-innocence. This analysis fits also well with the Easter Liturgy calling the Original sin “truly necessary sin” and “felix culpa”: Felix was not the actual misdeed of the first human sinners but the decision of God to create their descendants without the state of innocence, in order to make it possible to redeem sinners of all times.”

" In order to avoid misunderstandings in this context, it is worth clarifying that God was entirely free to create humankind or not, and after the fall God remained entirely free to redeem human beings or not. However, once God decided for Redemption He was no longer free to maintain people in the state of original righteousness along with people who had lost this state. This seems to be what St. Paul declares in Romans 11:32: God put His omnipotence and creativity at the service of
mercy, and invented an amazing way to bringing good out of sin (Burkhart 2015, 170)."

God miraculously transmits the Original Sin to each Generation!
“The state of original sin is a product of both the pride of the first sinners and God’s will to redeem
sinners. Thus ‘Adam’ is the symbol of the first sinner, who transgressed as if all people were subsumed into him. As soon as the first sin happened, in order to make it possible to redeem the sinners, God acted as if all humanity was in the state of sin and needed Redemption.”

“This conclusion fits with St. Paul’s claim in Romans (5:19) that “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners”. Thus the ‘fall’ is both a historical event involving a couple or community, and the common experience of all humanity (Rom 3:23, 5:12, 11:32). In this respect I share George Murphy’s appraisal: “if we take the idea of inspiration of Scripture seriously, it is not hard to believe that Paul could have been led to a deeper understanding than that of the earlier biblical author” (Murphy 2006).”

“Note however that the expression “because all sinned” (Romans 5:12) should not be interpreted in the sense that each (past, present, and future) human person actually sins, and only at this moment enters the state of sin and has need of Redemption, because this would amount to claim that human persons cannot freely decide to sin or not to sin.”

Conclusion: God as clay pot maker? Try Piano Player!
“One could say that God acts like a pianist playing the melodies he wants; however, at intervals, God accepts to play what a human person wants. It is God who works in us, both to will and to work, but He is not the author of the sin in us. Similarly, mankind’s first fall “bounds” God (because of His mercy) to create human persons in the state of original sin, that is, lacking the state of innocence. But the reason that God has acted this way is not His will, but the humans who fell (Suarez 2015).”

This was proposed by the Prior Pope!!!
“The explanation of original sin as “Relational damage” was proposed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in four homilies the author held during Lent 1981, at Liebfrauen-Dom in Münich. These homilies appeared in 1986 as a booklet, which may be considered the first published Ratzinger’s attempt to reformulate Catholic teaching on this matter. Nonetheless Ratzinger seems to have taught these ideas as early as 1964 in lectures he imparted in Münster (Sanz 2014). The 1986 booklet was reedited in 1996 and 2014.”

“In our following analysis we will mainly refer to Chapter 3 about Original sin (“Erbsünde”) in the Fourth Homily. The corresponding text is reproduced by “Institut Papst Benedikt XVI” quoting the first edition of 1986, and remains unchanged in the 2014 edition, which appears under the author’s name “Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedikt XVI” (Ratzinger/Benedict XVI 1986; 2014, 72–73). One can therefore safely assume that the text also reflects the author’s thinking to date. Ratzinger’s main tenet is that original sin consists in a relational damage affecting every person at the moment he or she begins human existence…”

“In the German original of the teaching on original sin as “relational damage” Ratzinger questions the term “Erbsünde”, which is supposed to mean a sin inherited by “biological reproduction”. By stressing the “relational” nature of “original sin” Ratzinger suggests a different form of propagation. In the Münster Lectures (1964) he considers the hypothesis that God created a first couple of human persons (man and woman) among a population of animals with human appearance, and
describes it as an explanation that unifies “theological monogenism” and “biological polygenism”. This distinction allowed him to argue that the notions of “monogenism” and “polygenism” do not necessarily contradict each other, since they can refer to conceptual levels that do not completely
overlap („Biologischer Polygenismus und theologischer monogenismus sind deswegen nicht notwendigerweise sich ausschließende Gegensätze, weil ihre frageebene sich nicht vollständig deckt“, quoted in: Sanz 2014, 482, Note 82).”

So what happened to the Non-Sinning Hominids?
"However Ratzinger did not address the question of what happened to the population of non-personal but human looking animals: Did they disappear or rather become also transformed
into persons by God? In this context it is worth noting how Joseph Ratzinger interprets the
biblical “Adam”:

“In the Bible this word [“Adam”] expresses the unity of the whole creature “man”, so that one can speak of the biblical idea of a “corporate personality”. So if Jesus is called “Adam”, this implies that he is intended to gather the whole creature “Adam” in himself. (Ratzinger 2004, 236). In the German original: „Das Neue Testament macht das erkennbar, indem es ihn einen ‚Adam‘ nennt; dies Wort drückt in der Bible die Einheit des ganzen Wesens Mensch aus, sodass man von der biblischen Idee einer ‚Korporativepersönlichkeit‘ spricht.“ (Ratzinger 2005, 222).”

Don’t look to Original Sin in the Flesh - - it comes in, from God, through our Souls!
“God selected one couple among all the individuals of the species Homo sapiens and transformed them into persons in the “state of innocence”. That is, He bestowed the animals with spiritual powers (intellect and free will) strong enough to perfectly master their selfish Darwinian tendencies
and even overcome pain and illness. The original sin was the disobedience of these primal persons to God’s commandment. God then continued to transform all the other living Homo sapiens, and from this moment bestowed each newly conceived individual with personhood.”

“The species continued to exist in this way until the present day. However, God’s plan for Redemption implied that people created after the fall could not be in the state of innocence, and so the consequences of the fall of primal human persons became transmitted to all humans at all times. In this sense there was transmission of original sin immediately after the fall, first through transformation of already existing non-personal individuals of the species into persons, and then onward to their biological descendants. And these two types of transmission can appropriately be
referred to as “transmission at generation”, since in both cases it happens at the moment a new human person comes into existence.”

And there’s plenty more in the article!

I had the most mysterious experience while reading @AntoineSuarez 's paper: I honestly felt like I was in a monastic cell, reading the latest new thoughts on how to explain Original Sin. In the paper there is realism, there is practicality, and then there is the fantastic, and the mysterious, and the sheer drama of falling from the pinnacle of Solomon’s Temple … looking for a place to land, and somehow landing in a the soft cushioning of hundreds of words on paper, weaving a tapestry of God’s mind to save you from destruction!

It was exhilarating . . . but True? How do you disprove a miracle? This is Roman Catholic metaphysics at its very best. I stand and offer a “slow clap” in recognition of a very difficult concept to “sell” to an audience that is very, very different and distant from the ecstatically imaginative realms of the Medieval Roman Catholics!

‘Transmission at generation’: Could original sin have happened
at the time when Homo sapiens already had a large population size?
by Antoine Suarez (Center for Quantum Philosophy, Zürich)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/SetF.2016.014

Models have been proposed assuming that God created the first human persons at the time when Homo sapiens already had a large population size; this hypothesis agrees with emerging data of evolutionary genetics. The present article argues that in such a historical context the propagation of original sin can be explained through “transmission at generation”, in accord with Romans 11:32, and the “Decree concerning original sin of the Council of Trent”.


What does original sin actually mean and what are its consequences?
Adam, Eve and Population Genetics: A Reply to Dr. Richard Buggs (Part 1)
What biblical reasons are there to accept the scientific view of the earth as billions of years old?
What are the various views on the origin of the spirit?
(Antoine Suarez) #2

Thanks George for your enthusiastic and at times even lyrical review of my article.

I would like to give some supplementary information about the genesis of the article:

The article you have read is the attempt to present my theory to a Forum of Catholic Theology, and show that what I say fits well with the Teaching of the Catholic Church and the Magisterium of the Popes.

However, my explanation about the “transmission” of original sin was first published in “Science & Christian Belief”, a Journal committed to Evangelical Christian Faith, after a long and critical review, where I have learned a lot:

Can we give up the origin of humanity from a primal couple without giving up the teaching of original sin and atonement?
S & CB 27 (1)
April 2015

I am indebted to the Editor Keith R Fox (Professor of Biochemistry, University of Southampton, UK) and the Reviewers for their serious work.

And the fact that I am writing here today comes to pass because Michel Murray (Templeton Foundation) has read my articles and brought me in contact with Jim Stump and Brad Kramer.

So I am confident that the audience of BioLogos will enjoy the articles as you apparently do.

My explanation is certainly inspired in the “Relational damage” model by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, but also in the “Homo divinus” model with “federal headship” as supported by Denis Alexander, Sam Berry and Graeme Finlay [see my article in S&CB].

However in my view, these two models have the following awkward consequence of “spiritual contamination”:

At any time in history, the sin of anybody propagates to everybody living at this time and thereafter.

My theory aims to overcome this consequence.

As you very well state the key for my explanation is the principle St. Paul formulates in Romans 11:32, which applied to the “original sin” means:

After the first human sin (which is not necessarily the sin of the first human person), for the sake of redeeming all sinners, God generates any new human person in the stage of “need of Redemption” (the so called “stage of original sin”).

I am convinced that Romans 11:32 allow us to find an account which fits with both, the Teaching of the Catholic Church (St. Paul, Council of Trent, and Papal Magisterium) and the Evangelical Faith (as for instance presented in Biologos, What we Belief), and this would be a Great Leap Forward in the effort of giving a consistent account integrating Science, Scripture and Theology.

Therefore I think it is worth discussing the meaning of Romans 11:32 in this Forum.

You report “the most mysterious experience” you had while reading my paper. I guess that my words somewhat conveyed to you my experience of feeling God’s presence not in “a monastic cell” (where I have never dwelt), but in a quantum lab or in Darwin’s Down House:

My theory is very much based in my experience as quantum physicist and philosopher. I have the “amazing grace” of having shared friendship with two scientific geniuses: John Bell (quantum nonlocality) and Ernst Specker (quantum contextuality). My work is very much inspired by their theorems, which have led me among other results, to the astonishing insight that the “Many-Worlds” theory can be formulated to account for Divine Omniscience (see this recent comment in Nature). In the quantum lab run by Nicolas Gisin and Hugo Zbinden at the University of Geneva I have often felt how the tapestry of God’s mind underpins the whole world from outside space-time, and can be considered weaved by spiritual entities (Quantum angels!).

Furthermore my explanation of Original sin is based on the emerging view on Evolution I describe in my Essay. And this view is very much inspired by the work of outstanding scientists like Richard Durbin, Mark Thomas, Chris Stringer, and not least Richard Dawkins.

I like your comparison of my account on Original sin with “the sheer drama of falling from the pinnacle of Solomon’s Temple” and being saved from destruction by a tapestry of God’s mind. It is the dramas we all experience here in this unique BioLogos blog in our common endeavor for understanding how God’s Word in Scripture and God’s Word in Nature match one another.

But you can be trusted: the devil was right when he argued to Jesus: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). The devil was well aware of the quantum nature of the world (in Scripture even what the devil says are inspired words!). And Jesus didn’t contradict him but only retorted that we should not put God to the test for the sake of pride. Here we all are committed to humility and love. So God will command His (quantum) angels for guiding us to a “cushioned landing”.

My theory about the Flood
(Antoine Suarez) #3

I am curious to know what do you mean by “miraculously” in this context.
This term doesn’t appear in the quotes of my article you refer to.
Thanks in advance for clarifying.

(George Brooks) #4


There is a tendency in some folks who favor Augustine’s Original Sin, that a biological transmission of Original Sin is normal and to be expected. Like Darwin, he wasn’t sure what exactly conveyed the genetic traits to the next generation, but he was sure it was biological.

I think it’s really an awful way to look at Original Sin.

What I liked about your approach was that you, plain and simply, denied any biological role in the process. Sin was an element, or ingredient, of the human soul. And God has the monopoly on providing Souls, yes?

So, God “injects” the necessary Original Sin into the human soul, just before “shipping” the Soul to its destination.

Perhaps you are not happy with the use of the term “miraculously” because this suggests some beneficial action? From my perspective, I see the term “miraculously” as merely a word that connotes “God did it… and we don’t know how.”

I don’t see much of a choice here. If original sin is not transmitted from “human to human” (by social contact, mental contact or genetic contact) - - then we are left with one remaining vector: by Divine Contact!

For me, this is somewhat hypothetical, because I adhere to the traditions that reject the whole idea of Original Sin. But! … if I were to believe in Original Sin, I would probably have to adopt a formulation along the lines you have proposed.

(Antoine Suarez) #5

Many thanks George for giving me the opportunity of presenting my theory about the Fall with some detail. All your thoughts are stimulating and worthy to be discussed. So I will comment them one by one although in a different order.

You are right: I deny that the Original Sin is transmitted like sort of “genetic illness”.

One should distinguish between two meanings of “Original Sin”:

  1. The first sin in the history of humanity, that is, the first act of transgression of God’s law committed by human persons, which is not necessarily an act of transgression of the first human persons.

  2. The stage of Original Sin, which actually is nothing other than “to be in need of Redemption”, or more precisely “to be in need of Jesus Christ’s Grace to reach Salvation”.

The first human persons who sinned (say “Adam and Eve”) before the Fall were not in “need of Redemption”, that is, they were not in “stage of Original Sin” but in “stage of Original Righteousness or Grace”. And after transgressing God’s law, they casted themselves into the same stage as fallen angels, which is NOT the “stage of Original sin” or “stage of being in need of Redemption”.

As already said in another thread, God could very well have decided to act according to (Matthew 25:41), that is, remove those who sin from the face of the earth, send them “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”, and let on earth only humans in “stage of Original Grace”, that is humans who don’t need Redemption. This way the earth would have been populated by “holy people” till the end of times.

Nonetheless God preferred to have mercy of human sinners of all times. To this aim He agreed that the first sinners and all sinners thereafter remain in the earth, to the sake of moving them to repent, without violating their free will, through the Grace of Jesus Christ. This way the earth should be a home for “sinners in need of Redemption”.

But having decided this, God had a problem: In which stage should He create the new human persons to be generated till the end of times? Should He create them like He created Adam and Eve, that is, “not-being in need of Redemption”? After some reflection God saw that this would not be convenient at all: Having on earth two different groups of people, one of people “being in need of Redemption” (sinners) and another of people “not-being in need of Redemption” would be counterproductive for His work of Redemption. Understanding the reasons “why God excluded” the coexistence of these two groups, deserves surely further study, but “that God excluded” this possibility, this we know because He inspired Paul to write Romans 11:32.

In conclusion, after the first sin God decided to create any new human person in the stage of “being in need of Redemption”, which has traditionally been called stage of “Original sin”.

Tomorrow I will continue commenting your other thoughts.

(Antoine Suarez) #6

This statement could be misinterpreted in the sense that “God causes damage to the new persons or ‘souls’ He creates”. I prefer to say “God creates the new human persons (i.e.: new embodied spiritual souls) being in need of Redemption”. Thereby one makes clear that although this stage is worse than the stage in which “Adam and Eve” were created, it is a positive and encouraging situation after all, precisely because it makes Redemption possible for all sinners till the end of times, who otherwise had been “damned to eternal fire”. In fact the time itself is already an ingredient of God’s Redemption plan: the fallen angels could not be redeemed because their decision happened at once. Because of the “stage of Original sin” (that is, the prospect of Redemption) “Adam’s sin” (that is, the first sin in human history) can even be called “felix culpa” (happy fault).

This sheds also an interesting light on evolution, as I have pointed out in another thread:

The same way that God could have decided to remove the sinners from the world, He had also the power to keep the earth as a Paradise. He could have avoid a lot about evolution that’s not so pretty, like many painful forms of natural selection, illnesses, death, extinction; instead of creating “through such a tortuous and suffering-filled process” he could have do it [following Jerry Coyne’s suggestion] “just poofing everything into being at once, as Genesis says.” This way the earth would always have been populated by “godly” people living in the “perfect” Paradise. The “perfect pre-fall world” of YECs could very well have been the “perfect post-fall world” as well.

But having decided to redeem the sinners, God was led to conceive a world which is appropriate for sinners to live. Such is the evolutionary world, where on the one hand “we can clearly see God’s eternal power and divine nature”, but on the other hand we also experience some unpleasant things like illness, pain, death, catastrophes, moral evil, etc. And why can these unpleasant world’s properties be good for our Redemption? This again deserves further study, but it seems obvious to me that such properties lead us to realize that we are not like God, and this way help us not to fall into the temptation angels and “Adam and Eve” fell.

Paradoxically the “perfect pre-fall world” YECs invoke, would have been the consequence of “God’s Judgement” with immediate condemnation of sinners after the Fall. The “imperfect” evolutionary world which we live in was rather the result of God’s mercy in preview of the Fall.

(Antoine Suarez) #7

Here again the line of thinking is correct but the term “Divine Contact” can be misunderstood.

As said in the previous postings, “Original Sin” is basically nothing other than “lack of the Original Grace”, that is, the Grace God bestowed to Adam and Eve at the moment He created them. It is this “lack of Original Grace” what is transmitted.

The “lack of Original Grace” is obviously not transmitted genetically like a “genetic illness” from Adam and Eve to their descendants.

Consider now the following scenario: God selects Adam and Eve among a large Homo sapiens population, reveals them His law, and Adam and Eve trespass it. What does it happen to the other humans living in the earth at this time?

The explanations Homo divinus (Denis Alexander, Sam Berry, Graeme Finlay) and “Relational Damage” (Joseph Ratzinger/Benedikt XVI) are not clear about status and fate of the other humans contemporaries of Adam and Eve. So these explanations can be understood in the sense that all these contemporaries were also bestowed with “Original Grace”, responsible to God’s law, and, even if they didn’t sin, they lost the “Original Grace” after the Fall of Adam and Eve. That is, the Sin of Adam and Eve became transmitted laterally to their contemporaries like sort of “spiritual contamination”. In my view this explanation is at variance with God’s justice.

The alternative explanation I propose overcomes this awkward consequence: The contemporaries of Adam and Eve before the Fall were not responsible to God’s law and capable of sinning. Consequently they were not bestowed wit “Original Grace”. After the Fall God endows them with awareness for His law, but doesn’t bestow them with “Original Grace”. So these new human persons are created “lacking Original Grace” and therefore “being in need of Redemption through the Grace of Jesus Christ”.

In conclusion, after the first sin in human History all new human beings who are responsible to God’s law are created or generated by God “lacking Original Grace” and this is what means that they are created in the stage of “Original Sin”. This happened for instance immediately after the Flood, when God endowed 14,000,000 human adults with awareness of responsibility toward His law. And this happens now every time a new conception takes place through biological reproduction, but not because of biological inheritance.

So “transmission of Original Sin” means “transmission of lack of Original Grace”: It is a bad effect of the “first sin in human history” but a magnificent gift of God’s mercy (Romans 11:32).

Have a blessed Good Friday and let us rejoice tomorrow about the felix culpa in the Paschal Vigil!

I hope to find time during the weekend for completing the comment of your very stimulating thoughts: Thanks again for them.

(George Brooks) #8


Let’s just confirm one specific detail for the sake of the audience watching these proceedings on TV at home! < :smiley:

Is this your intended explanation (A):
That after the [Regional] flood, survived by Noah on the Ark, the 14,000,000 adults outside the flood area had their Souls “tweaked” by removing original grace (aka, some want to say: “by adding Adam’s Original Sin”).


this (B):
That after he [Regional] flood, survived by Noah on the Ark, God arranged for any future generations of the 14,000,000 adults outside the flood area would be “tweaked” by removing original grace?

I look forward to your choice/answer!


(Antoine Suarez) #9

I respond with pleasure George.

The answer is ©:

The 14,000,000 Homo sapiens adults outside the flood area were in the same stage as the Homo sapiens adults God selected and transformed into Adam and Eve, that is: They didn’t have sense of law, were not responsible to God’s law and capable of sinning against it; their souls were not endowed with free-will. Therefore they could not be bestowed with Original Grace. And consequently this Grace could not be “removed” from them.

At the end of the Flood God gave them a “new kind of soul” (as you have very well said somewhere), a soul with free-will, and they became responsible to God’s law and capable of sinning, exactly the same as God did at the creation of Adam and Eve. But contrarily to Adam and Eve, God didn’t bestow these 14,000,000 new souls with Original Grace, that is, God created them in the same stage as He created Noah and all the people living near Noah within the flood area.

And God arranged for any future generation of the new 14,000,000 humans with free-will, and obviously also any future generation of the eight in Noah’s boat, that they would be generated without Original Grace.

In summary according to my theory God never remove Original Grace from human souls, but doesn’t give Original Grace to the human souls He creates after the first sin in human history. And the reason for this is His mercy! (Romans 11:32).

A final comment: The Flood is regional from our geographical perspective today. By contrast from the perspective of Salvation in 2 Peter 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:20 the Flood is global, since it affected the whole “ancient world”, that is the area where lived all the people who were “in need of salvation” and capable of sinning. At the moment of the Flood the 14,000,000 spread all over the world were not capable of sinning and therefore are irrelevant for 2 Peter 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:20. However since they sojourned in an area that remained unaffected by the flooding like Noah’s vessel, this area can be considered sort of “very large lower deck” of the “Ark”.


While I understand the desire to on the one hand accept evolution as the now probably way in which human beings came into being I notice still a very strong tendency for Christians from many church traditions to still want to locate a historical Adam and Eve or somehow match scientific data with such an imagined way in which human beings came became sinners and have remained so.

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that this mistakes the way in which Genesis came into being among the Near East cultures and that we should in fact only try to interpret the early chapters of Genesis in a symbolic and allegorical way, not to be seen as in any way historical. It is the story of how we are as people rather than how we came to be so. It reveals our tendencies to want things our own way rather than living by the revealed “word” to us of how we should be. It is about a failure to grow beyond our selfush instincts to embrace a trusting love of God.

We have two avenues for motivation of our will to do things; one is to please ourselves and satisfy our appetites and needs (somethinh inherited from our eveiolution) and the second motitive of living in God’s Just Love and Goodness. But like the mythical Adam and Eve we make the wrng choices that lead to terrible consequencies for ourselves and our neighbours and the world. Our sin is our immaturity and disobedience to the highre impulses that God has given to us and revealed specially in Jesus Christ.

(GJDS) #11

@AntoineSuarez, @gbrooks9

I will begin by saying how much I appreciate this in-depth discussion.

I appreciate the effort you have expended in developing your theory, and also I have begun to understand the reason(s) why so much emphasis has been placed on seeing human history and the human conditions through a Darwinian evolutionary matrix.

I need to say that your theory of “God never remove Original Grace from human souls, but doesn’t give Original Grace to the human souls He creates after the first sin in human history” seems to presuppose that:

(a) Knowledge of God was somehow available to all, humans or non-humans.
(b) That without knowing the Law, people could be considered to have sinned.
© That the human condition is adequately understood by us, to enable us to identify a time when sin was absent and after this time, it became part of humanity.

The question of God’s grace, and the redemption of the creation, cannot, in my humble opinion, be discussed within a physical time framework – by that I mean God’s will transcends our experiences and conceptualisation – although we rely on guidance through scripture and pray that we will receive this from the Holy Spirit.

Getting back to the main point, we are given information through scripture on Adam and Eve, and we understand that they did not obey God’s command, but they were deceived into believing error, and consequently acting contrary to God’s command.

Paul discusses knowledge of the law and the importance of deeds, (Rom 2.6 God will render to all according to their deeds) – with Adam and Eve we are clear, and they were removed from Eden, but they could still pray to God (enter Cain and Able).

I am inclined to the view that the relationship was changed, in that before Adam and Eve were deceived, they had unhindered knowledge and understanding of God. After this act (or deed), my speculation differs from your theory, in that Adam and Eve provided an erroneous understanding of God to those outside the garden prepared by God, and sin=error (even before the Law was presented formally) became universal.

I will end by agreeing with you in that God has withheld His Grace from portions of humanity until the time Christ walked amongst us, and this too testifies to His Mercy and Forbearance.

(George Brooks) #12

This is just a side-note, @AntoineSuarez… just an FYI … a piece of ancient realism that has to fit in with the other evidences we collect …

Could this have been the God of humanity beyond the realm of Noah’s flood?

Believed to be 40,000 years old, a hand-sized possession of cave visitors…
Is this what the Divine looked like to those who were not yet responsive to God’s law?



I think it’s Aslan.

(George Brooks) #14


Uh-uh … Hohlenstein-Stadel is in Germany … But either way, Asia or Western Europe, it would be beyond the bounds of the Noah-centric flood story…


That was a joke. This statue is actually famous.

(Antoine Suarez) #16

Thanks GJDS for your interest in my work and your suggestions.
In order to discuss these coherently I would like to remember that I assume the following scenario for the Flood (see the thread “My theory about the Flood”):

  • Flood around 3000 BC.

  • 100,000 humans living near Noah in the Flood area. All of them were responsible to God’s law, capable of sinning, and “in need of Redemption”. And all perished in the Flood, except Noah and his family.

  • 14,000,000 humans living outside the flood area, spread all over the world, peopling even Australia and America. All these were neither responsible to God’s law, nor capable of sinning, nor in “need of Redemption”.

  • Immediately at the end of the Flood these 14,000,000 are endowed by God with free-will to become responsible to God’s law and capable of sinning.

If you accept this scenario, then it is obvious that a large part of these 14,000,000 new postdiluvian human persons (for instance those living in Australia and South America) could not have been “provided with an erroneous understanding of God” by Noah’s family (the only possible direct descendants from Adam and Eve). Consequently we have to accept that they have been generated as free-willed persons by God in the stage of “need of Redemption” (“stage of Original Sin”), immediately after the Flood.

If you don’t accept the scenario above, then please tell us which scenario you propose instead.

(GJDS) #17

Thank you for your comment.

My suggestion initially focuses on understanding the teachings of Genesis regarding Adam and Eve. God revealed Himself to Adam and Eve in a particular manner (He created them male and female) and placed them in a setting that would have continued this special relationship. Once they were removed from that setting, they would continue with the knowledge of God, but also a separation from Him. This knowledge was made available to all who came in contact with Adam and Eve - but now also with the deceit they accepted from Satan (the snake). The Bible has many examples of prophets receiving words from God so they could admonish human populations (esp Israel), but the message was not accepted.

This to my outlook is profound and central to how we view human personhood and human attributes, and indeed human acts.

On the question of populations, this has been discussed at length, and whatever the particular opinions, modelling shows the current population can be shown to have grown from a recent common ancestor within the time frame that is indicated by artifacts, cave paintings and so on. In these settings we can detect a propensity to spiritual matters, although very different from Biblical teachings. It is possible to argue this is the result of deceit which has permeated humanity since Adam.

I think your comments may mean that large populations were removed from where Adam was located, so my guess is that you feel they could not have heard of God and deceit and separation from Adam. I understand that our verifiable knowledge of such ancient events would be very sketchy.

Regarding responsibility, and the Law, Paul speaks at length in Romans, and he even shows that when we become aware of the Law, we also realise that we have sinned - it is then we accept responsibility for our acts. God however, knows this for all time - so we are in need of redemption from the very beginning - we just realise this as individuals in our own time.

(Antoine Suarez) #18

Genesis is certainly an account with deep theological meaning.
According to Genesis 3: 5, the temptation leading to the Fall seems to be the desire of “being like God”.

How do you relate this to your supposed “failure to grow beyond [Darwinian?] selfish instincts”?

The issue here is not how to interpret “the early chapters of Genesis” but “the pericopes of the New Testament referring to the early chapters of Genesis”, especially the words of Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27), and the Peter’s Epistles (2 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 3:20). And these imply that we cannot interpret the early chapters of Genesis “in a merely symbolic and allegorical way”. In particular: “the Flood story is an interpretation of an actual historical event retold in the rhetoric and theology of ancient Israel” [see BioLogos].

What happens is that Revelation is dynamic: the Revealed Truth contained in the Bible goes beyond the way how the materially written words (Scripture) can be understood at any particular epoch of human history. In this sense, today evolutionary science and quantum physics provide the “passwords” that allow us to decipher “encrypted” messages in the early Genesis narratives.

(Antoine Suarez) #19

Dear George,

In my view the idea you are proposing is really serious and far reaching.

Here some first thoughts on my part:

Yes, I think this piece reveals sort of proto-religious awareness: Although much more evolved, it can be compared to ritual practices we are recently discovering in Chimps.

It does not reveal responsibility to God’s law and capability of sinning. It is rather a symbol for archaic religiosity, characteristic of humans which have not yet been endowed with free-will. I find very inspiring your idea that this could have been the kind of religious perception “of humanity beyond the realm of Noah’s flood”, in Germany but also in regions more far away like Australia and America.

Interestingly enough: In the perspective you propose, idolatry like in the episode of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) could be interpreted as falling back into archaic proto-religious practices to evade responsibility to God’s law. Such a motivation might subconsciously determinate certain current atheistic beliefs as well.

My theory about the Flood
(Antoine Suarez) #20

I agree that transmission of Original Sin cannot be explained biologically.

However, Augustine’s view deserves closer attention.
It is well known that Augustine aimed to refute Pelagianism, a doctrine that overestimates the power of human will and considers humans capable of Salvation without the help of God’s Grace; according to Pelagius the bad influence of Adam on his descendants is that of bad example. Before Augustine the Church Father Irenaeus of Lyon had to struggle against Gnosticism, a doctrine that considers human nature completely depraved and human flesh inherently sinful; in this perspective human free-will becomes abolished in the end.

The scriptural basis for the teaching of “Original Sin” is: Psalm 51:7, John 3: 5, and St. Paul’s letters. On this basis the Greek Fathers with Irenaeus, and later Augustine basically highlighted two things:

  • All humans are in need of Redemption, even if they have not personally sinned.

  • Human will is really free and therefore the fact that each human person needs God’s Grace to be saved does not imply that each person has to sin.

For the sake of explanation Irenaeus coined the concept of “Original sin”. And Augustine elaborated further on it stating that Original Sin is transmitted by propagation and not by imitation (“bad example”).

Since at that time there was no ground to doubt the literal interpretation of the Genesis narrative that all humans are biologically descended from a single couple, Augustine’s explanation (“On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants-Book I”) became coupled to the biological reproduction and more recently to genetically transmission. In this line of thinking some awkward conclusion was derived, as for instance Thomas Aquinas’s claim that “if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would not contract original sin” (S.Th. I-II, q. 81, a.5).

So we have to distinguish four claims:

  • A): Each person is free NOT to sin.

  • B): The very fact of Redemption by Jesus Christ implies that each human person is generated in the stage of “being in need of Redemption through Jesus Christ’s Grace”.

  • C): The fact of “being in need of Redemption” (called “stage of Original Sin”) is caused by the first sin committed in human history.

  • D): The stage of “Original Sin” is linked to biological descent from a single couple.

A), B) and C) are the main assumptions of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church (Greek Fathers, Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas among others), and is the actual content of the Decree on Original Sin of the Council of Trent.

It is important to stress that the reason for C) is not that Augustine

C) is in fact a consequence of A) and B):
The stage of “being in need of Redemption” (“Original Sin”) can neither be explained by assuming that each person necessarily sins [against A)], nor through sins of other persons (ancestors or contemporaries) different from the first sin in human history.
The stage of “being in need of Redemption” cannot be explained invoking Adam’s “representation of mankind” either:

Such an explanation implies that if Adam (“God’s representative”) had not sinned and sin had arrived generations after Adam, humans would not have been in need of Redemption.

D) is an unhappy claim that actually is not implied by A), B), and C), and even Pope Pius XII claims that it has to be maintained only as far as one cannot explain A), B) and C) otherwise.

Evolution is teaching us that we have to give up D), and thereby is helping us to make better theology: We can maintain A), B) and C), and search for a suitable explanation. My proposal is that Romans 11:32 provides the key for achieving this.

After this discussion I would be thankful to know your position regarding the three Premises A), B) and C) above:
Do you accept or reject them?

As in other points your answer will surely help us to progress.